Syracuse Vocal Ensemble

Artistic Director

Praised as being "extremely musical," SVE's newly-appointed music director, Yunn-Shan Ma, a native of Taiwan, is active as a conductor, pianist, and educator in both North America and Asia. Her range of conducting experience spans professional, semi-professional, and student ensembles. Ma moved to the United States in 2011 with a full scholarship for doctoral study in conducting at the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of William Weiner and Neil Varon. While at Eastman, she assisted Eastman Opera, served as the assistant conductor of the Conductor Department, and taught basic conducting labs. She currently teaches and leads ensembles at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Nazareth College. She is also the music director of the Taiwanese Choral Society of Rochester.

With an interest in a broad range of repertoire, Ma has been selected to participate in many distinguished competitions and master classes. She has conducted select performances in Europe with Cadaques Orchestra in Spain and North Czech Orchestra in Teplice; in Asia with Evergreen Symphony Orchestra, Taipei Philharmonic Chorus, and Taipei Chamber Singers; and in the Rochester area with the Greater Rochester Women's Philharmonic, Eastman-Rochester Chorus, Eastman Chorale, and Eastman's New Music Ensemble, OSSIA. In July 2013, she was selected as one of five finalists to guest conduct the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. In December 2014, Ma was invited to direct the Messiah Sing with orchestra at Trinity Church in Geneva, with a grant from the NYS Council on the Arts. In early 2015, she led the first Eastman performance of Britten's cantata Phaedra for mezzo-soprano solo and orchestra at the Kilbourn Hall and guest conducted Syracuse Vocal Ensemble. She was invited to conduct the 2015 Taiwan Film Music Production at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York City; she guest conducted the Genesee Symphony Orchestra in December 2015. In summer 2016, she guest conducted the Taipei Civic Symphony Orchestra and Chin-Yun Choir at National Concert Hall in Taipei, Taiwan.

In addition to being an active conductor and performer, Ma has devoted much of her energy, time, and talent to musical education. She has frequently been invited to serve as a guest clinician as well as adjudicator to competitions and festivals. As the 2005 winner of the Taipei Municipal Joint Teacher Search Auditions from more than 250 candidates, she was appointed a full-time music instructor at Taipei Municipal Zhong-Zheng Junior High School, serving on the jury committee the next year. Ms. Ma often is invited to give lectures on conducting and music appreciation at Shi-Hsin and Cheng-chi universities; in addition, she is co-author of the cross-curriculum teaching manual, Music and the Ocean, published by the Taiwan Ministry of Education in 2011. In summer 2015, she was invited to hold a workshop for the ensemble of Ying-Hua College from Hong-Kong on their tour visit at Eastman School of Music and has been frequently invited to be under the faculty of the Taipei International Choral Festival.

Ma received her early musical training in piano and violin from the age of five. At the age of eleven, she moved to Vienna with her family and won an audition to study piano and violin at the pre-college of the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien. After returning to Taiwan, she received a bachelor's degree in piano performance with minors in violin and vocal performances, as well as a master's degree in conducting from National Taiwan Normal University.

Yunn-Shan enjoys reading, writing, travelling, cooking with her husband, often joined by her cat, Daisy.

Previous Artistic Directors

Robert Cowles, 1996-2015
G. Roberts Kolb, 1990-1996
Julie Pretzat, 1986-1990
G. Burton Harbison, 1982-1986
John Armstrong, 1980-1982
Marietta Cheng, 1978-1979
Bruce Campbell, 1976-1978
Timothy Adams, 1973-1976

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"The music filled the space with incredible blend and rich, warm harmonies ... It was a truly stunning reading of these lesser performed gems."
Love and Light concert, March 2014
Abel Searor, Syracuse Post Standard
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"SVE gave a remarkable performance and the mundane concerns of life were transcended ... the audience held its collective breath, hesitating, unwilling to disturb the intensity of the experience."
The Rakhmaninov Vespers, 2010
Linda Loomis, Syracuse Post Standard
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"I have been a heartfelt fan of Syracuse Vocal Ensemble for many years. Every single concert by this fabulous group of singers has been musically engaging and often deeply moving ... I keep coming back to hear great music superbly sung."
Kevin Moore, pianist

"[SVE's concert] was, simply put, the finest choral performance I have ever heard in person."
Crystal LaPoint, composer

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